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Baseball Discussion Group / Ask The Umpire / Caught foul off catcher's helmet
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Posted By Discussion Topic: Caught foul off catcher's helmet

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danniblett
09-08-2014 @ 9:17 AM                          
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Hey all - I searched and found a thread similar to this, but not exactly, and wanted to see if the same ruling applies. Strangest thing I've ever seen in Little League... Batter hits a foul directly to the catcher's helmet, that then flies in the air to the 1st baseman who catches it cleanly. I called the batter out from a caught foul ball but I think I might have gotten it wrong. Luckily it's fall-ball in the 9-10 league! Please let me know so I can get it right next time.

Thanks

VTHokieUmp
09-08-2014 @ 10:00 AM                          
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Assuming the ball went sharp and direct from the bat to the helmet, it's just a foul ball. It's not a foul tip because it didn't hit the catcher's mitt or hand first. Even if it did, it's still not a foul tip because only the catcher can catch a foul tip.

It doesn't qualify as a foul fly because it went sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher.

It's just an uncaught foul ball.

Bill

This message was edited by VTHokieUmp on 9-8-14 @ 3:33 PM

danniblett
09-08-2014 @ 2:36 PM                          
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OK - thanks. I guess I was just confused since it was indeed caught. Just so I'm sure I understand... the foul ball hitting the catcher in the helmet makes it dead and out-of-play immediately, therefore the catch doesn't count?

VTHokieUmp
09-08-2014 @ 3:25 PM                          
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Correct as long as the ball goes "sharp and direct" from the bat to the catcher.

A ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat and first touches some part of the catcher or his equipment other than his mitt or hand (such as his mask) is a "rebound," and is considered a foul ball.

The definition of a foul tip contained in Rule 2.00 states that a rebound is not a foul tip. I do not believe you'll find any where in the rule book where it states that a "rebound" is considered a foul ball.  It's a universally accepted interpretation.

If the ball goes sharp and direct from the bat and hits the catcher's mitt or hand first and is ultimately caught by the catcher, it's a foul tip and treated the same as a swinging strike - ball is live, runners can advance and be put out, etc.  No player other than the catcher can catch a foul tip.

But - not everything in baseball is simple.  If, after hitting the bat and before hitting the catcher, the batted ball goes up in the air or there is enough of a "loop" in the trajectory of the batted ball that you judge it a foul pop fly, then it can be caught "in-flight" for an out even if it bounces off the catcher or his equipment.  The catcher just has to make a legal catch before the ball hits the ground.  Nothing in the rules says the batted ball has to go above the batter's head to be considered a "fly ball" - just not "sharp and direct" from the bat to the catcher.  That ball can be caught by any defensive player.

Bill

This message was edited by VTHokieUmp on 9-8-14 @ 3:37 PM

danniblett
09-08-2014 @ 3:47 PM                          
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Yes, it certainly was sharp and direct to the catcher's helmet. Thanks for the in-depth explanation. I won't forget this one.

VTHokieUmp
09-08-2014 @ 4:02 PM                          
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I thought it had to be "sharp and direct" if the first baseman ended up catching the rebound.

I don't know if the average manager of a 9 - 10 year old LL team will understand the rule.  But then, I'm not sure some varsity coaches would get it either.

Bill

JC_Baseball
09-09-2014 @ 3:09 PM                          
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We resemble that remark  

VTHokieUmp
09-09-2014 @ 7:06 PM                          
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You said that - I didn't.

Bill



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